Ask McCormick HS head coach Russ Schneider when he realized Mataeo Durant was a Power Five talent, and without hesitation he will answer when he met the then freshman for the first time.
Shortly thereafter, Schneider will note the 6-1, 192 pound Durant rushed for nearly 2,000 yards — 1,979 yards on 177 carries (11.2 YPC) for 25 TDs to be exact — in his freshman campaign.
"Mataeo is probably the most humble, polite young man I've ever met that will knock your head off and then help you up," Schneider told The Key Play.
Though primarily a running back and linebacker, Durant does it all for the Chiefs. He's played wide receiver, wing, quarterback (to execute the zone read), defensive end, nose guard, and safety. As a junior, he rushed for 1,275 yards (11.0 YPC) and 16 TDs in only 6 games (due to an early season ankle injury). Durant wants to pursue a business degree and plans to make his commitment prior to his senior season.
"This kid's a once-in-a-lifetime kid you get a chance to coach," Schneider said. "As a player, he is by far the most amazing high school football player I've been around."
Virginia Tech offered Durant a spot in its 2018 recruiting class as a running back, and the Hokies sit well for a crack at his services along with Duke, Wake Forest, West Virginia, East Carolina, and Wofford.
"They have a great football program," Durant said of his interest in Tech. "I loved the environment when I went up, and their educational values. They graduate a lot of their seniors and players."
Durant visited the Hokies in April, and a firsthand look at Tech's spring practice was a highlight of the trip.
"They use the (running) back a lot," Durant said. "He's very key to the offense. They put him in different situations. He's a pass catcher. He's running the ball. Different things."
Schneider likens the 3-star recruit's running style to current Rams and former Georgia standout Todd Gurley.
"He hits this gear out of nowhere," Schneider said. "We know on any running play if he gets outside the tackle it's a touchdown. It's automatic."
Durant's highlight film backs up that claim more often than not.
"I put him in the slot, on that wing. We'll unbalance that one side, and he'll come in motion on the jet. He's just fun to watch.
As a matter of fact, this year he stiff armed two kids and got personal fouls on it, because it was such a hard stiff arm and they waved the flag. That's how strong he is."
And while Schneider is certainly bullish of Durant's mix of quickness and power, he's in awe of the young man's kind character, leadership qualities, and work ethic.
"Everybody talks about the football player, but the kid is by far the most amazing student athlete I've ever coached in 20 years," Schneider said. "That includes non-athletes."